Seahawks' offense overcomes slow start in rout of bumbling Bears

The Seattle Times

SEATTLE Jimmy Graham caught lots of passes, Tyler Lockett returned another kick for a touchdown, a Kam Chancellor-infused defense kept the Bears in check, and for an afternoon all was right again in the Seahawks' world.

In their regular-season home opener, the Seahawks overcame a slow start to blow out the bumbling Bears 26-0 in front of a CenturyLink Field-record crowd of 69,002 Sunday.

The one ominous note was a hamstring injury that sidelined running back Marshawn Lynch in the second half, limiting him to five carries for the game.

And the caveat is that the win came against a beat-up Bears team playing without starting quarterback Jay Cutler.

But after a sluggish first half in which Seattle led just 6-0, the final two quarters looked like the Seahawks of old.

Lockett got the run started with a team-record 105-yard return of the second-half kickoff for a touchdown.

The Seattle offense then uncorked a couple long drives, with Russell Wilson capping one with a 30-yard touchdown pass to Graham, who finished with seven catches for 83 yards after a week when his role in the Seahawks' offense was heavily discussed.

The Seahawks outgained the Bears 162-24 in the third quarter.

The defense played stout throughout and recorded Seattle's first shutout since a 23-0 win against the Giants in New York on Dec.15, 2013. It was the first time the Bears had been shutout since 2002.

The Seahawks are 1-2 and get an extra day off this week before hosting Detroit next Monday night.

Lynch didn't start and didn't come onto the sideline until midway through the first quarter as he dealt with back and calf injuries.

Lynch had 14 yards on five carries and one reception for nine and then did not play the second half because of a hamstring injury. There was no initial word on the severity of the injury. But the aches and pains are also beginning to pile up for the 29-year-old Lynch, and Seattle may have to get used to the idea of no longer being able to base its offense around him.

The good news is that the Seahawks appear to have found something in rookie Thomas Rawls, who made the team as an undrafted free agent and got the bulk of the work in place of Lynch. Rawls showed the ability to hit cutback runs that is necessary in this offense, notably on a 21-yarder early in the third quarter.

Rawls finished with 101 yards as the Seahawks used fullbacks Derrick Coleman and Will Tukuafu more than in any game this season to set up the running game.

Seattle failed to convert its first seven third-down opportunities before breaking through on a pass from Wilson to Doug Baldwin midway through the third quarter.

The first offensive play of the game went to Graham, and he finished the first half with a game-high four receptions for 44 yards.

However, he was not able to come down with a pass on a fade route in the end zone late in the second quarter as the Seahawks twice had to settle for field goals in the first half on possessions inside the Chicago 20-yard line.

The Seahawks had just 48 yards on 13 plays until going to the hurry-up in the final minutes of the second quarter and going on a 77-yard 12-play drive.

The offensive line, though, had issues pass protecting throughout with Wilson sacked four times by a Chicago team that didn't have any in its first four games.

Chancellor started and played pretty regularly throughout he did not start the fourth series of the first half but came in midway through. Unofficially, he played 23 of 30 snaps in the first half.

The Seahawks gave up some yards on the ground early with Matt Forte rushing for 64 yards on 15 carries in the first half. But the Seahawks didn't bend, holding the Bears to 3 for 8 on third-down conversions and forcing punts on all five possessions in the first half.

The Seahawks played more base defense knowing the Bears would concentrate on the run. Brandon Mebane left in the first half because of a groin injury, which forced Jordan Hill to play almost every down the rest of the way. Rookie Frank Clark also saw his most action, playing often as an end in the base defense, and held up well.

How much of an impact Chancellor made is a little hard to gauge given the feebleness and simplicity of the Bears' offense Chicago had 21 runs to just nine passes in the first half.

Special teams were pretty much the difference in this one early on as a trick punt return set up Seattle's first score and Lockett's kickoff return helped break the game open.

Lockett was sprung down the sideline on a good block by Ricardo Lockette, and then he went basically untouched for the longest return in Seattle history.

The Seahawks effectively pulled off some trickery early, using the same play the St. Louis Rams had against them last year to set up Richard Sherman for a 64-yard punt return. On the play, the Seahawks faked as if they were setting up Tyler Lockett for a return to the right side of the field but the ball went to Sherman on the left. He got to the Chicago 19-yard line to set up Steven Hauschka's 31-yard field goal to open the scoring.

One negative some shaky blocking on a couple of Jon Ryan punts that were tipped, with the Seahawks catching some breaks took favorable Seattle bounces.

Hauschka was perfect on four field-goal attempts, and the coverage was solid enough.


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